26 July 2016

Students from the University of Hertfordshire have won five ‘Rookies’ awards, including Game of the Year and Film of the Year.

Since its creation in 2009, The Rookies has sought to foster innovation and talent through its awards, giving out hundreds of thousands of dollars in prizes and internships. Intending to expose talented young designers, creators and artists to an international audience, the awards allow students to showcase their best work to the world.

The 2016 awards attracted 1,824 entries from 479 Universities in 77 countries. The winners were then selected by the judging panel, who made their decisions on the overall impression, creativity and the range of skills showcased, as well as complexity, presentation and industry employability.

Next-Gen gaming

NexusNexus was the big Game of the Year winner under the Next-Gen gaming category. The five strong team made up of second year students; Chris Pereira, Soul Payne, Akira Yashiki, Fiona Tan and Rene Mitchell Lambert created a fully playable, open world exploration and puzzle game.

Rally Bug TurboGraduating students Josh Broughton, Sam Buchanan, Mark Moore and Justin Taylor were runners up for the same award with their entry Rally Bug Turbo which is an off-road racing game where players can race a customisable buggy.

Virtual Reality

Third Year students in 3D Games Art & Design, Tauras Koreiva and Leonardo Scazzocchio scooped another ‘Game of the Year’ award within the Virtual Reality category with their Vietnam VR Experience project. Players of the game can experience the Vietnam War through virtual reality.

VR ExperienceLeonardo, originally from Rome and now a resident of Hatfield said: ‘Taurus and I wanted people to be amazed by Vietnam: VR Experience, and we worked hard to make the experience as immersive and spectacular as possible. I was afraid the lack of interaction, typical of most recent VR titles and video games in general, was going to make the project stand out less than others, but winning this award that we succeeded in our original intent of delivering an immersive experience through this new technology that is Virtual Reality.’

Tauras, originally from Lithuania and now living in Nottingham said: ‘I didn't expect to win anything when we entered the competition. The whole idea behind starting the project was to try something new, something different. With virtual reality becoming more and more popular, I think it was the right choice to have a go at creating an experience tailored just for it. It was quite a challenge to get everything right at first, but I think that Leonardo and I did a great job and all the hard work paid off in the end.’

Inspiring students

Neil Gallagher, Senior Lecturer of 3D Animation Games Art at the University of Hertfordshire said:

‘Lecturing to passionate group of students in the art of real time video games creation is a great post to have in life. It’s made all the better when your students win your University the award of School of the Year as well as Game of the Year in both the Next Gen and the Virtual Reality categories, it is a huge honour. At the University, we try and encourage our students through a method of regular submissions, teaching and also allow the students creative freedom to tailor their artefacts in whichever direction they wish to go, through games, games design, simulation, visualization, edutainment, mobile, tablets, virtual reality and so on.

‘Real time video games is not only a new and evolving platform but it’s unique in so many areas with constantly new and emerging technologies but we never forget our classical roots in art and design culture and use the technology just as a tool of expression.’

Hertfordshire students also achieved wins in the Illustration and VFX categories. 3D Animation student Veronika Epsteina was the public’s favourite, winning the People’s Choice award with over 7,000 votes, as well as receiving a high commendation for her illustrations.

BertieZak Boxall and Chris Turner’s creation Bertie the Elephant which also won an Innovation in Film Award from PETA last month, received the Film of the Year award in the VFX and Animation category. The film features a computer-generated baby elephant on his journey to return a lost toy to its owner.